Sunday, October 29, 2006

Remembering the schoolgirls

It was a year ago today, October 29 2005, that four Christian high school girls were attacked by barbaric Islamic militants while on their way to their private school in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Theresia Morangke 15 (above left), Alfita Poliwo 17 (above right), and Ida Yarni Sambue 15, were beheaded by machete wielding Muslims while Noviana Melawa, now 16 (below) was able to escape with a deep slash wound to the side of her head. (see article here) Noviana remains under police protection as she is a witness to the brutal crime.

Less than two weeks later on November 8 2005, two more female students, Yuli Siti Nairani and Ivone, both 17 were shot at point blank range. Both survived gunshot wounds to the jaw/neck area.

A group of Jemaah Islamiyah linked Islamic militants led by Hasanuddin of the Poso Mujahidin is under detention at Polri headquarters, suspected of carrying out the beheadings, several bombings including the bombing at Tentena Market and other acts of terrorism. Police have reported that seven members admitted to taking part in the beheadings. Members of Hasanuddin's group are also thought to have carried out the assassination of Pastor Susianti Tinulele and the recent killing of Pastor Irianto in Palu. This group trained in a terrorist training camp in Maluku and several members claim ties with one of the Bali Bombings masterminds, Noordin M Top. This group is also linked to militants, Islamic Defenders Front and Islamic Struggle Brotherhood Forum in Poso, who local Christians suspect are currently carrying out recent terror attacks in Poso and wanting to re-open the conflict. Beheading suspect Sahal Alamry was an Islamic guru at Adnan Arsal's Alamanah boarding school. Adnan Arsal, also president of the Islamic Struggle Brotherhood and Sugiyanto Kaimudin of the Islamic Defenders Front have called for the removal of extra police and military from the Poso area, claiming these security forces are biased against Muslims and have threatened action against the government and local daily life of those in Poso. A mob of 300 members of both Islamic militant groups went on a rampage and attacked police with guns, firebombs, rocks and homemade weapons several nights ago resulting in one militant being killed by police firing at the mob in self-protection.

It has been one year now and the Christian community of Central Sulawesi and families of the victims are still waiting for the police to solve the case and for justice to be served. The lack of action in naming killers and bringing them to trial has Christians suspecting that there is more to these cases behind the scenes and military or police were also involved, resulting in a delay of the judicial process and justice to be carried out. Until justice is served, we pray for the families and friends of the school girls, for the healing of those who survived the attacks and that the militants who caused to this be tried and receive full sentences for their crimes. Theresia, Yarni and Alfita, may God rest your souls and we have not forgotten you. God Bless You!!

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